Tenerife Day 9 – June 30, 2013 Sunday

Starting the morning with the church service, we began our second week in Tenerife.  United in the name of Christ Jesus, we worshiped with the Santa Ursula church.  Composed of Canarians, Venezuelans, and Americans, we worshiped the same God altogether in the same room at the same time.  Although not knowing everything that was being said, the Holy Spirit moved in the hearts of those non-Spanish speakers who were listening.  With the praise and worship songs having a familiar tune, we were able to sing along in English as the rest sung in Spanish.  One of the missionaries spoke on Hebrews 13, emphasizing Biblical principles that should be apart of our every day lives.  Lunch was another fantastic meal at the church where we enjoyed each other’s company.  Following lunch we met for Team Time where Kory shared with us about the life of Paul and how we can look at his life and gain confidence in our walk with the Lord.  We also heard testimonies from Lauren and Zoe, both of which shared how God has moved in their lives and what He is doing now.  A quick trip into the nearby town of Puerto de la Cruz allowed us to do some sightseeing, shopping, and of course have some wonderful gelato ice cream.  We returned to our homes for dinner and a time of fellowship with our hosts.  We have also prepared for our adventure next week as we will be sending a small contingent to a local town for a mini-clinic and the rest will hold a full size clinic in the town of our host church, Santa Ursula.  Once the mini clinic is over, those participating in that clinic will join the rest back in Santa Ursula to finish the clinic there.  Sound confusing?  Well, we’ll see how it all plays out tomorrow.  At the time of this entry, Spain’s soccer team is playing Brazil’s team in the championship game of FIFA’s Federations Cup.  It’s never a dull moment here in Spain when there is a soccer match on that captivates the attention of the country.

For the team,
Coach Brendan

Tenerife Day 8 – June 29, 2013 Saturday

Packing it all up was how we ended things last night and that’s how we started this morning.  All the kitchen supplies, food, clothing, etc that we have been using and wearing this past week all had to get put together and loaded in our cars.  With everyone working together, we had eaten breakfast and loaded our 6 cars and a cargo van by 10:00AM.  Not bad for all that we had!  From there, the cars headed to a town a little further south (and west) for our Kayaking adventure.  25 of us set off on the sea as we loaded up single and double sea faring kayaks.  Following our guide, we left the dock and headed out to sea, staying near the coastline of the Island.  Towering approximately 15,000 feet up, we paddled along side huge cliffs on one side and the vast open sea on one side.  About 1.5 hours into our journey, we stopped to hop into the crystal clear water for a swim in the ocean.  With masks and snorkeling gear, we were able to see the many fish that swim in the ocean beneath us.  Most of them were small, but the sight was breathtaking.  With the temperature close to 94°F, the sun was hot and the water was cool, and having SPF 30 and 50 on our skin, we enjoyed the time in the water or just resting in the boats.  We paddled the rest of the way back through the ocean, over the waves that made our kayaks rock, and back to the dock from which we had launched.  Once on dry land, we found a place to eat our pic-nic lunch and then headed up North to our new homes for the next week and to the town of our host church.  We were able to enjoy a brief shower in our new lodging and then headed off for a fantastic meal at our favorite guachinche.  From rabbit to pork to chicken, we were served a wonderful meal that included a variety of salads, bread with a nice red dipping sauce, olives and goat cheese, and hot chic peas in a stew-like sauce.  Enjoying the company of our hosts, we lingered at the table, soaking in God’s goodness to us all and fellowshipping with believers from different backgrounds and with different first languages.  The team continues to bond as we get to know each other better and work hard alongside of each other.  Before we knew it, it was time to leave and head back to our new homes.  With tomorrow being the Lord’s Day, we need to get some rest for the service.  God has continued to show us great grace and mercy as He has helped our team members with small health issues.  We have seen some trials come our way but God has been great and our needs have been met by Him.  We are learning more of His saving grace each day and we are blessed to be called His children.  We continue to love Him more each day as we learn more about Him and serve Him for His glory.

For the team,
Brendan

Italy update #5

Buon giorno! Hard to believe the first week is already over. Seems like it just flew by. It is usually a really good sign when it flies by so quickly! That would certainly be true for this week. This was our fourth summer here in Imola and it seems to get better each time. Relationships go deeper, more doors open, new people get involved, and it seems as though the hearts soften even a little bit more.

Friday’s camp is always bitter sweet because we get a chance to enjoy camp one more day and celebrate the week together, but have to say good-bye. Yesterday was a bit cold so we went inside for most of our lunch time. This ended up being a great move because it allowed us to put on a dunk contest. It might be noted that we lowered the hoops so that all of the coaches and most of the older campers could join in. But nonetheless, everyone was really into it. We eventually lowered the hoop down so that virtually everyone could dunk, and you know that was a huge hit! We put the kids through drills but also spent time playing fun games to finish on a high note. The parents showed up at the end of camp as we recapped the spiritual components of the week. I would imagine some of those thoughts and challenges get home, but probably not all of them, so it is great to have the parents there so they can hear what the kids have heard all week.

Friday night is always such a great time. Last night we went to a local pizza place and close to 60 people crowded into the restaurant for 3 hours. We interspersed ourselves throughout the kids and parents and just enjoyed one last night of fellowship before heading out. It was encouraging to hear the parents share about how their kids enjoyed the week. I always find it interesting (and very encouraging) that parents rarely hesitate to bring up the spiritual component of camp. They always appreciate the sportsmanship and character lessons we give at camp. There are regular Bible stories that we share, many of which they have never heard before, that certainly challenge their thinking.

The coaches did a great job this week of investing in the kids. They were long days. We were out the door at 8:15 am and did not return home each night until at least 10:30 pm, at which point we had some team things to do together. So sleep was at a premium, which is why everyone is still sleeping as we enjoy a later morning before heading to Florence for the day. We will be there all afternoon and part of the evening before heading up to Mestre via train.

So hard to believe week #2 is about to begin. It is bittersweet to be leaving Imola, but we believe we left a strong aroma of Christ behind and are confident that the local church will continue to invest in these families long after we leave. And we are excited for our time in Mestre with those kids and families for the week.

Thanks for praying for this first week. Please continue to pray that what has been shared will take root in the lives of each of these young men and women. It is our desire that they would come to know their Creator in a very real and personal way!

Enjoy your weekend!

Grazie prego!

Tenerife Day 7 – June 28, 2013 Friday

It’s hard to believe we have completed one full week of clinics here in Tenerife.  The time has gone by quickly with many exciting opportunities and evidences of God’s grace.  Today was no exception.  Filled with fun and expectation, we have enjoyed another great day due to the Lord’s divine providence.  Today’s routine followed yesterday’s and after a typical European breakfast of bread, jam, and cold cuts, we were encouraged again from the book of Hebrews.  Following the devotional, we were off to the gym for the morning clinic.  Knowing that this was the last time we would hold the morning clinic, a few of the girls’ eyes became moist with the thought.  However, once the activity of the day began, all smiles returned and we were back in the routine.  The clinic flowed perfectly and the coaches put the final touches on the things they have been teaching all week.  With one last opportunity to talk about things of the Lord, the coaches each tied basketball and the things learned this week, tying those concepts into life.  A great moment of intimacy with each group, each kid was able to hear directly from the coaches’ hearts.  The last element of the clinic involved a clinic-wide game of Hot Shot, allowing all the kids to participate.  60 kids were present today in this clinic and each of them enjoyed playing the game.  The clinic ended with an invitation to return tonight for the final evening clinic and some refreshments and the reminder that parents could arrive an hour early to watch their children play the game.  Our group returned for another fantastic lunch, followed by a praise and worship team time.  The Lord was honored both in word and in song as the entire group shared this time together.  Back to the gym for the last time, we again had the kids, all 61 of them, broken up into teams and competed 5 v 5.  Each player had demonstrated a level of growth in their basketball skills as well as their understanding of sportsmanship and what it looks like on the basketball court.  Ending the time together with a short closing program, we were able to recognize individual players who performed well in two of our competitions and those who demonstrated great sportsmanship all week.  Following an explanation of who Push the Rock is and the distribution of the awards, Alcedes, a missionary with the local church in Granadilla (only a short distance away) we are working with here in the South, talked a bit about knowing who Jesus is and having a relationship with Him.  Heard by both the kids and their parents, he was open about having Jesus as a part of their lives.  He also invited the kids to be a part of the things that his youth group will be doing.  After the last whistle was blown and the final group huddle was called and the last “Push the Rock” was cheered.  A time of refreshments followed and players, coaches and parents all mingled and continued to build bonds of relationships that had begun earlier in the week.  A young lady named Julia accepted the Lord today and she cried with joy as she was welcomed into the family of God.  One of our Venezuelan coaches had been talking with her for a while and today God drew her to Himself!  We give praise for what He has done in the life of this young lady.  May she grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and grow stronger in her walk with Him.  The night ended with a very large set of pick-up games which included all the teams that have played against each other on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It was a fun night as PTR players were scattered on a variety of teams as all had a chance to play with each other rather than against each other.  Returning back to home base for our last night in the South, we enjoyed great food and good company.  Heading off to bed was the final priority as the weary bodies have begun to demand more rest from their owners.  As it is silent now, tomorrow will bring a great day of excitement as we pack-up to head up to our host church’s town, Santa Ursula.  We’ll be stoping along the way for a fun excursion before settling in for the nights events.  A great day and a great week behind us, we commit into the hands of our Lord the work we have done for Him and in His name.  May He use it all for His eternal glory.  To God be the praise.

For the team,
Coach Brendan

Tenerife Day 6 – June 27, 2013 Thursday

Tenerife Day 6
June 27, Thursday

Tired and sore, the team rose once again to begin another day on the island of Tenerife.  Putting in long hours is starting to take its toll, but daily being renewed with God’s strength has been vital to our success.  With much of the routine set as the previous days, the team has settled in.  Morning clinic, lunch, team time, afternoon clinic, games, and a late dinner have all been visited again today.  The morning clinic had an attendance of 48 and featured the older group of boys 15-17 years old who, with their talents far above the rest of those around them, worked harder than ever before.  Even the drills that seemed too easy, or too long, or too tedious were all treated with a high level of energy and intensity.  Responding to the challenge they received Monday morning, they met it head on today, leaving nothing for later.  They were tired and exhausted, but were in exchange for their energy, they received hours worth of fine tuning of their basketball skills.  Lunch was again delicious and made the tastebuds tingle with delight.  Team time began with our “special” rendition of ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, taking three different guitar players to finally find the tune and the rhythm.  However, once started, a beautiful blending of voices of praise and worship was lifted up to our great God and heavenly Father.  We were challenged by the story of Queen Esther as she demonstrated courage to do what she was called by God to do for His people.  Esther, a real person who lived long ago on this Earth, still today speaks to us words of encouragement to follow what God is calling us to do, no matter how scary it may seem.  Testimonies by Keegan and Clarissa further encouraged those listening as was a beautiful time hearin what God is doing in the lives of others.  Back at the gym, the afternoon clinic featured 58 kids and started with a fun shooting game.  The kids enjoyed working on their shooting as they had the opportunity to shoot from 8 different spots on the floor.  Once the 5 v 5 games began, the kids played hard and well.  Incorporating things that we have shown them over the week, they have collectively improved the level of play.  After a quick snack, we headed off to the gym in Granadilla for our double header.  With the girls game first, we arrived ready to take on the team with the other 70+ people in the stands.  The Granadilla team recruited a few top players from Adeje’s team to help raise their level of play.  Playing hard and working well, the Push the Rock team kept the game close.  With a few minutes left, the PTR women’s team pulled within 6 and were positioned to work their way back.  However, a three point shot from the other team helped them pull away, securing the victory 43-31.  Although a loss, the game was a great way to interact with the locals and show the love of Christ in how we play and interact with others.  Shortly following the women’s game, the men took the stage.  Building a commanding lead, the PTR team moved far ahead.  However, the Granadilla team inched their way back in the second quarter and ended the half only down by 5 points. Working together as team the PTR team continued to score and brought the lead back to more than 10.  As the final minutes ticked off the clock, the game increased in excitement as the Granadilla team put on a full court press.  Playing at a feverish pace, the Granadilla team threw all they had at the PTR team, leaving nothing to chance.  A few key plays by the PTR team kept the Granadilla team at bay and ended the game with a 58-53 victory.  Despite the pressure from the Granadilla team, the PTR team maintained its composure, kept their eyes on the Lord and were able to be a great testimony to those watching.  It was a wonderful opportunity taken to demonstrate that Christ followers can play hard and play well and still play in a way that honors their Savior.  Getting back to the host site at 11PM, we ate a delicious meal and headed off to bed.  With another day down, the end of the week draws closer, putting us soon at the midpoint of our time here in Tenerife.

For the team,
Coach Brendan

Tenerife Day 5 – June 26, 2013 Wedneday

Midway through the week, another day begins.  The breakfast and prayer time was as it was the past two days, giving us a great way to start the day.  Hearing from God’s Word and praying with fellow believers continues to be a great way to start the day.  Once at the clinic, we were greeted by 53 kids who game to participate in what we had for them.    Many of them tired, they continued to attend and participate in all that we shared with them.  We continue to see players of all ages and abilities extend a hand to fallen players in order to help them up.  Grasping the essence of sportsmanship, these players have begun to incorporate this action into their daily play.  Lunch and then team time were both enjoyed back at our accommodations for the week.  The meal tasted so good as it filled our stomachs and allowed us to take a break to rest as we ate.  Team time consisted of a time of praise and worship in song and prayer.  Praising God for who He is was a part of the team time as well.  Testimonies were given by Reghan and Amy as they each gave God glory for what He has and is doing in their lives.  Right back at it, the second clinic began as previous days and the kids continued to enjoy their time on the court.  Rotating teams for games, the kids patiently waited their turn as two out of three courts were used for full 5 v 5 games.  Following the clinic, the women’s team played in Adele, just like the men the night before.  Some of the girls on the team had been coming to the clinic and we were welcomed to the gym by them.  A spirit of camaraderie was prevalent as the PTR team met and talked with the team from Adeje.  With about 40 fans in the arena, the PTR ladies gave the game all they had.  They worked the ball up court, passing and shooting their way to 46 points.  The men’s team had devised multiple sheers for the women’s team and used them all night long through out the game, keeping the women’s team encouraged and energized.  Although a great number of points, the PTR team was out scored by the Adeje team 60-46.  Keeping their testimony strong, the PTR team never wavered and remained a positive testimony of what has been taught so far this week.  A fantastic dinner ended the night and the PTR teams put their heads on their pillows knowing that they had done much for the Kingdom and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the team,

Coach Brendan

Italy Update #4

“It always makes a difference how one ends.

Aren’t endings where you shut, but don’t lock, the door?”

-Stephen Dunn

 

Buongiorno! Today brought a special presentation at camp. Josh, the pastor/missionary we are partnering with here in Imola retold the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 for all of the kids. We then split the kids up into small groups where coaches followed up with discussion questions to gage the campers’ response and to encourage their reception of the gospel message.  We have been uplifted by the kids’ general receptivity to Christ and their display of God-honoring behavior in camp activities in accordance with the challenges we have given them.

 

God has given us wonderful opportunities to display his love, unity and goodness to the campers and to others both during camps through teaching, testimonies, and interaction, and outside of camps at our Imola tournament games where many of the kids came out to support us and saw our integrity on display!  Praise the Lord.

 

Please continue to pray for the children, that God will draw them to Himself and grant them open hearts and ears. Tomorrow is our final day of camp with them and we will also eat dinner and talk with their parents after camp.  Please pray that we will end this week well, leaving the parents and players savoring the pleasant aroma of Christ’s saving love and work, that they might praise God because of us and that God’s kingdom may grow through our ministry, that God will cause the seeds planted this week to grow.

Italy Update #3

Buon giorno! Hard to believe it is Thursday morning already! The week is flying by.

It certainly was a wet one yesterday to start the day. Thankfully we have been inside all week. The last four years we have been in Imola it has been in the mid-90s. This year it has been in the 60s and 70s. Quite a change! It has kept the gym much cooler during the day. Instead of a sauna, the gym has felt more like a gym all day. It has really helped with the energy level of the coaches and kids.

The kids continue to work really hard every day. They pay special attention to the spiritual components as they get quizzed throughout the day. We start out the day with a Sportsmanship Thought and prayer, play some basketball, stop for a testimony from a coach about how a personal relationship with Christ has impacted his life, more basketball, a challenge from Scripture, more basketball, lunch, non-basketball stations where coaches can ask each other questions about life, basketball, and any spiritual, more basketball, a testimony from a coach, and then some more basketball.

It has been encouraging to see the kids write down questions at night and bring them the next day for these non-basketball stations that we do during lunch. They take it quite seriously and have asked some great questions. Many have also been quite open about their thoughts on spiritual matters.

Italians love their food (and for good reason!). We love to walk around during lunch and see what kids have brought to eat. Their Moms pack them enough food for about 3 days, but the kids put it away. Not to mention the 3-4 course meals they bring along. For some odd reason, they also seem to be hungry after they have polished off what they brought. The coaches continue to eat very well. This is one of the few trips that Push The Rock takes where coaches do not lose some kind of weight with all of the basketball being played.

Our host missionaries have taken great care of us this week! We are staying at a local seminary in town and living in the same hall with college students. They are very friendly and have put up with our early morning goings and late night comings. We have had an opportunity to interact with them on different levels. Looking forward to more dialogue these last two days before we leave.

We would appreciate your prayers for today (Thurday). We are sharing the Gospel at camp today. The kids have heard and seen it all week, but they will be getting a very explicit explanation of what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. Please be praying for one of the missionaries who is the church planter here. He will be sharing this morning at camp. Then at lunch time we will break up into smaller groups and follow up with the kids, asking them questions, and challenging them in what they have heard. We are looking forward to seeing how the kids respond today as we have seen the Lord soften their hearts all week.

Tonight we will be hanging out with the three families who have hosted us. Italy plays Spain in soccer, so that will be on the agenda tonight. It is our last night of just hanging out together before we head north to Mestre for week #2. Last night we hung out for dinner and then went downtown for a few hours. Every Wednesday night in the summer they have an open market of sorts where people come and sell their goodies. Many streets throughout the center of town are lined with vendors. They also love their demonstrations here. We watched a karate demonstration and part of a kids’ puppet show. The downtown was absolutely packed, which made it harder to get our first taste of gelato. But we did, and we most definitely lived to tell about it! 🙂

It was another late night last night but I would imagine the team slept well. Right now it is about quality over quantity. Hopefully we can get a little quantity sleep over the weekend as we head to Florence and then on to Mestre (Venice region).

Before that happens there is much to be done! Thanks so much for praying for us! We need it and and cherish it. Be blessed to be a blessing today!

Off to breakfast  and camp day #4 …

Italy update #2

Buon giorno!

A quick update to let you know that we are alive and well. It is early Wednesday morning and we are headed to camp shortly. It has been a busy first two days of camp. The 23 kids at camp have come ready to learn, work hard, and have fun. They have been a pleasure to work with! The coaches have done a tremendous job of bringing the energy the first two days. We get up at 7:15, get breakfast at 7:45, leave for camp at 8:10, and are at the gym from 8:15 until 6 pm.

The past two evenings we have gone straight to dinner, had our Team devos, played in a 6-team tournament, and then gotten home in time for showers around 11 pm. That leaves us just enough time to get to bed between 12 and 1. God is good!

A more detailed update will be coming tonight, but wanted to let you know that we are alive and well and sincerely appreciate and sense your prayers. Keep them coming! Wednesday is always a tough day because it is the middle of the week and everyone needs a little extra pick-me-up.

Thanks for praying and we look forward to sharing all that God did today when the day is over.

Blessings!